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Staff Predictions: No. 5 Penn State vs. Georgia State

Penn State wraps up its non-conference schedule under the lights at Beaver Stadium Saturday night in a matchup with Georgia State. The Panthers opened the season with a loss to FCS program Tennessee State and finished last year 3-9.

Our sports staff doesn’t see this team posing much of a threat to the Nittany Lions.

Anthony Colucci (2-0): Penn State 66, Georgia State 10

I will be a bit less ambitious than I was last week (although I correctly predicted Pitt’s score). After both Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley struggled at times a week ago, Saturday should be a good tune-up game and stat-padder for both as the Nittany Lions enter conference play next week.

Penn State has ironically been more of a first half team this season, but I expect Tommy Stevens to power the Nittany Lions through the final 30 minutes of football and finish off quite a week for himself. He’ll have a huge performance, both as a versatile athlete in the first half and as a garbage time quarterback, right where he first rose to fame less than a year ago against Iowa: under the lights at Beaver Stadium on the Big Ten Network.

Mikey Mandarino (2-0): Penn State 49, Georgia State 3

Another week, another mediocre non-conference opponent for Penn State. James Franklin’s squad should easily dispatch the Panthers, as was the case with Akron. Expect the starters to be pulled at some point in the third quarter to give them some rest heading into the Big Ten opener against Iowa, which oozes “trap game.”

Ethan Kasales (2-0): Penn State 56, Georgia State 6

I see Saquon Barkley returning either the opening or second-half kickoff for a touchdown and recording two more scores before the Nittany Lions put the reserves in. It’ll be interesting to see how Penn State utilizes its backup tight ends in what should turn into an early blowout.

Steve Connelly (2-0): Penn State 63, Georgia State 0

The number of people that don’t know who the Nittany Lions are playing/think they’re playing Georgia or Georgia Tech is astounding, but you know what…

“For us, this will be just like beating Pitt.”

Elissa Hill (2-0): Penn State 52, Georgia State 0

Unless Georgia State is ruining college football this season, the Nittany Lions should be able to steamroll this week’s Panthers with the same momentum fans saw against Akron. If the score is the exact same as the matchup against Akron, someone on this staff predictions slate definitely owes me dinner. Night games are magic in Beaver Stadium — even against seemingly random non-conference opponents — so I’m crossing my fingers.

David Abruzzese (1-0): Penn State 69, Georgia State 10

Just once, wouldn’t it be amazing for the Nittany Lions to achieve the nicest score possible? I for one would be in favor, and against Georgia State, I don’t see why Penn State couldn’t hit such a mark. Toilet humor aside, this game will be an absolute blowout.

The Nittany Lions should win handily, and cover too!

Matt Sniegowski (1-0): Penn State 59, Georgia State 7

Coming off of last week’s win over Pitt will help keep the Nittany Lions’ confidence up as they close out their non-conference schedule. McSorley and the rest of the offense should have a better start than they had against the Panthers last week, putting up at least 30 points going into the half. Franklin will pull his starters midway into third, giving Georgia a chance to slow the pace and possibly put up a couple points of their own. Penn State needs a big win margin to keep up pace and hold off Iowa in their first Big Ten game of the season next week.

Mitch Stewart (1-0): Penn State 55, Georgia State 6

Nearly a 40-point underdog, the Georgia State Panthers have the odds stacked against them as they make their first trip to Beaver Stadium in just their eighth season of competition. Seeing as their program is young and located in a recruiting hotbed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see success from this program as they get more acclimated to FBS.

However, a trip to play a team like this year’s Nittany Lions is essentially a death sentence to a program of Georgia State’s stature. Expect to see a lot of starters out resting in the second half to prepare for Penn State’s first big test of the year at Iowa next weekend.

Lexi Shimkonis (0-0): Penn State 49, Georgia State 3

Though I think Georgia State is the lowest caliber team on Penn State’s schedule so far, I don’t think the Nittany Lions will do more to the Panthers than they did to Akron, primarily because there isn’t quite the same “first game of the season” energy pent up. Similar to the Akron game, though, Penn State’s only points will come by way of touchdowns, making it look almost too easy to put seven more on the board over and over again. I predict that far more people will be thrown in the air after the first touchdown than the fifth or sixth. Throwing a 130-pound person in the air 49 times? I’m happy to have the points but honestly, they get heavy. Another important prediction — despite the night game atmosphere, attendance will be way down from last week. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t crack 100,000.

Nathaniel Pinskey (0-0): Penn State 48, Georgia State 10

I didn’t have to think long to pick Penn State to win this game. This will be a chance for the team to get rid of the rust left from Pitt and prepare to open Big Ten play next week. Expect the starters to leave the game early, and allow many of the younger guys to get some game action here. Penn State should be able to barely cover the large spread of -37.5.  Saquon will continue to post his usual stats, but none other than Billy Fessler will lead the Nittany Lions to the victory.

Matt Fox (0-0): Penn State 52, Georgia State 7

With two games, 85 points scored, only 14 surrendered, and two wins on the board, the Penn State comes into this game firing on all cylinders. Georgia State, on the other hand, started off this season the way they ended last season — with a loss. With mismatches all over the field, Penn State shouldn’t have to kick it out of second gear, but rather should cruise to an easy victory. The only question is how long James Franklin will choose to leave his starters in. The Nittany Lions’ first real test will come next week when they travel to Kinnick Stadium to play Iowa in their first Big Ten matchup of the season.

Champe Fisher (0-0): Penn State 45, Georgia State 10

After exorcising the demons from last year’s loss to Pitt, the Nittany Lions continue their 2017 campaign with a cupcake game against Georgia State. Penn State will be motivated after being hopped in the AP Poll by Oklahoma and USC despite a 33-14 win last weekend. Saquon Barkley should be able to run wild against a Georgia State defense that has never played against someone with his combination of power and speed. Look for Trace McSorley to begin taking more shots downfield as the Nittany Lions approach the beginning of Big Ten play.

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